Around the Bases
Pushes No. 3 UNC Past No. 2 FSU
By Phil Stanton
CARY, N.C. – Blanked for seven innings, No. 3
North Carolina wasn’t fazed against second-ranked Florida State.
The Tar Heels (17-4, 37-7) rallied for 11 in the bottom of the
eight, scoring 10 with two outs, in an 11-4 win over the
Seminoles (18-4, 34-6) in the opener of
their ACC series Friday evening in front of a season-high crowd
of 3,621 at Cary’s USA Baseball National Training Complex.
Florida State leads the conference and is second
in the country in batting, but was held to four hits and scored
in two different innings without the benefit of a hit.
The Seminoles got on the board in the top of the
fourth as Tyler Holt reached second on an error, moved to third
on an error on a sacrifice bunt and came home on a sacrifice fly
by Buster Posey. A double play ended the threat.
UNC starter Alex White had excellent control in
the first five innings, throwing 67 pitches and 50 for strikes.
But he walked the first three hitters in the sixth and Posey’s
sac fly to deep right center plated the second run for FSU and
ended the night for White. Jack Rye greeted reliever Brian Moran
with a sacrifice fly to center to push the lead to 3-0.
Tar Heels had base runners in six of the first seven innings,
but couldn’t get that big hit to dent the scoreboard. But all
that changed in the eighth. Dustin Ackley (right) was
aggressive, ripping a leadoff double to left on the first
offering of the inning.
“Coach didn’t say anything about taking the first
pitch,” Ackley said, “so I pretty much swung at the first pitch
I saw that was good and it ended up working out. I got two
strikes on me and I knew I needed to put it in play. Anything
can happen when you put it in play. I just tried not to strike
out, let their defense get me out, and it found a hole.”
UNC head coach Mike Fox knew to let his leadoff
man swing away.
“He’s at his best when he’s hitting the ball to
left field,” Fox said. “We just let Dusty be Dusty. I usually
don’t give him the take because he’s normally so patient up
there. He doesn’t swing at too many bad pitches. He knew what
was at stake. Actually I’m glad he did that rather than a walk
because it did obviously got him on second base, but it did get
us a little excited there.”
Ackley moved to third on a groundout and scored
on a double by Tim Fedroff. Following a second groundout, Kyle
Seager drew a walk to end the night for FSU reliever Ryan
Strauss. Tim Federowicz hit a sharp grounder that was booted at
third to load the bases and keep the inning going. Garrett Gore
drove a 3-1 pitch up the middle to tie the game at 3-3.
“Right before I got to the plate, I prayed to God
and he answered it,” Gore said. “At the plate, I hadn’t been
swinging the bat that great. I just sat there, took a deep
breath and relaxed, and he gave me a pitch to hit.”
Seth Williams was hit by a pitch and Mark Fleury
drew a bases-loaded walk to give UNC its first lead at 4-3.
Ackley added a two-run single and Kyle Shelton’s three-run homer
gave the Heels a 9-3 advantage. A double by Fedroff, a walk to
Chad Flack and a double by Seager made it 10 consecutive batters
to reach base with two outs as UNC had an 11-3 advantage.
“It’s rare for our team to ever get down,” Gore
said. “We really know how to battle and get fired up. I don’t
think we ever got down. We know we have the bats to come back.”
Fox knew his guys would continue to battle.
“I don’t know about resiliency, but we’re going
to keep playing,” Fox said. “That’s why this is such a great
game. It can change on a dime and I’ve seen it happen to us both
ways. The best thing about baseball is that you just have to
keep playing. Anything can happen. You don’t expect something
like that to happen, but it does, and it normally doesn’t happen
against a team like Florida State. We were fortunate because we
got a lot of that with two outs, but we’ll take it.
FSU scored the game’s final run in the ninth on a
fielder’s choice by Holt.
Game 2 will take place on Saturday at 6 p.m.